Dear Friends, Cultural anthropology is unique in the sciences for it attempts to see a whole system and not merely label from an outside observers’ perspective.
LE.O programs are also unique in letting the whole potential learner travel in both directions from home to different cultures and back. To see, orient, decide act across cultural boundaries with an ease of an experienced diplomate is an extraordinary gift.
This gift requires the ability to see the whole system of the learner from inside not an outsider's assumptions. This gift of an identity of self-awareness, self-organizing and ultimately self-governing is rarely absorbed from text books and in particular the way many educational exchange programs recruit, prepare the future learner for, during and after they climb on the airplane for an alien world.
I have observed in my international work, specifically in the Middle East, academics whose capacity to abstract, which has created their path towards tenure, become blinded by their cultural assumptions and high-flying ideas totally unable to see the system these learner's come from, how to prepare and support their students for success in easy commerce between cultures. They focus on the content of books and classes and forget about the human systems that is more than the goal of a degree. LE.O understands the larger context and humanity of their highly successful program.
In interacting with the Founder of LE.O, Deya’, and her father Graham, who traveled from the Hillbilly towns of East Tennessee to live and work in education in the Middle East and China, their secret is AGENCY. How the program is structured, not merely by the organization itself, but by the empowering of each different person into a commons. This attention to details of enabling the transition does not stop at identifying and placing a student.
Even in the US, in taking disadvantaged black students from the Ghetto to colleges, there was a high failure rate until certain programs discovered the secret of peer-to-peer, groupings. Facilitation of not a top-down conversation but, yes, a democracy of other like experienced learner's to learn together. LE.O has mastered in creating an environment of democratic brotherhood/sisterhood, where no one is left behind in getting ahead.
Moving from tribal or identity of a group in the Middle East requires a different identity where they learn they not only have agency but that knowledge comes from fellow travelers across cultural divides. One not only learns from those who have institutional degrees but from the "unwashed" all around them.
LE.O is structured to tap into the Genius of the People all around them. Learning and surviving great transitions means the maps and navigating skills of the "experts" is never enough. In the words of the longshoreman philosopher, Eric Hoffer, "In times of change, the learner inherits the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.
LE.O produces learners who will be prepared to change the world and not weigh society down with yesterday's answers.
Lowell F. Christy Jr. PhD
The FORUM on democracy